At 39, marketing executive and mother-of-three Amelia Fitzgerald felt that breast implants would make her happier – and they did. What she didn’t expect was the strong reactions of others. She talks to Britt Mann.
I’m not going to lie; obviously, it was a decision based on vanity. I breastfed three children and that had taken all their volume and shape. Also, if I ever lose weight, it instantly comes off my chest, so I get really bony there. I just wanted back what I had.
You give so much of yourself to having children – your body, your time, your career... My weight had gone up and down between 58kg and 87kg three times in 10 years, yo-yoing with pregnancy. I knew I could get back to my normal shape with diet and exercise but all the running and strength training in the world was not going to change my boobs.
I’m a pretty pragmatic person. If there’s something I’m unhappy with and I’ve got the power to change it, I will. So the practical solution was to have them done. I got my implants in July last year, about six months before my 40th birthday. I also had a lift, because I wanted my nipples facing upwards and not at the floor.
I only did it for myself; I did it for nobody else. My now ex-husband was quite against it. He was always saying he loved me as I was and didn’t want me putting plastic in my body. But I did a lot of research in the lead-up and I just felt like the benefits outweighed the risks.
I would look in the mirror in the morning and go, “F... it!” – just be annoyed. I’ve found as I’ve aged, I’ve gained a lot of body confidence, actually. You go through three pregnancies and breastfeeding. I took up marathon running so I’ve run three full marathons since I had my last child six years ago. I have this love and respect for my body in my 40s I never had in my 20s.
I spent a couple of years researching and checking out surgeons online. The money was a hurdle as well. The lift and implants cost $17,000. You can go to Thailand and get them done for $5000 if you want. But, that’s good for someone else. Not for me.
I chose a guy who’s got an incredible reputation, who’s booked out really far ahead. I had my initial appointment, where you go and try on the bra with different implants inside the bra. I wanted the smallest implant you could get, but the surgeon said most women come back to him saying: “I wish I’d got a cup size up.”
My surgeon recommended I go with an implant behind the muscle. You go for a mammogram before surgery and I just had another one again – you can still get a really clear view of the breast tissue. That was a big concern of mine.
I have microchipped boobs. If I was in an accident or anything overseas, I’ve got a card in my wallet, and they can scan my breasts in the hospital and see everything about the implants, all my health statistics, that’s all in an international database.
My surgery was about six weeks after the initial consultation. I had morning surgery, stayed overnight for observation, then went home the next day all bandaged up. You have a drain in each breast draining out blood and fluid. I’ve got two boys and they thought that was so cool – it was quite gruesome-looking.
I told my kids well ahead of time that this was what I was doing, and this is why I was doing it – to change the shape of my boobs. They didn’t care. They were just really super helpful – you can’t do much housework and lifting for a few weeks. To them it was just a non-event really.
You wake up from surgery with a surgical bra on. I just looked down and went: “Yes!” I was so stoked. I had cleavage again! I was a small B and now I’m a DD. It doesn’t look like that, though. They look in proportion with my body.
It never would have occurred to me to keep it a secret. It’s pretty frickin’ obvious. But my surgeon said: “Be careful who you tell about this, because it provokes really strong reactions in people.”
I was really shocked by that. Why should my cup size affect anybody else’s life?
My mother had been really against it, and then she saw them and said: “Damn it, I wish I’d had that done when I was younger.” To my face, reactions were all positive...
Putting on my bikini for the first time last summer, I just felt really, really fantastic. Some girlfriends and I went to Waiheke Island, to the nudist beach there and went skinny dipping. Just to be walking around with a top off and feeling great was really liberating, and really fun.
If I’m trying on clothes or if I roll on my tummy, they feel very, very firm. If I give anybody a tight hug, they know what’s going on. I would say they’re even more sensitive now. I’ve lost no sensation at all.
Everybody wants to touch them, the bolder people want to see them. After a couple of chardonnays, that’s totally fine, I’ll show anybody.
The other day, I had a singlet top on with no bra. I walked across the room to talk to a woman who I know. The first thing she did was look at my chest – I caught her doing it! It’s amusing to me, it doesn’t bother me at all.
There’s a real even split of guys who hate it and guys who are like, “Oh my God, that’s amazing”.
It’s a topic people have really, really strong opinions about; it ruffles feathers. There’s so many other things in the world to get your knickers in a twist about. Get upset about child poverty or the state of our oceans.
My mother had been really against it, and then she saw them and said: “Damn it, I wish I’d had that done when I was younger.”
Whether my nipples are pointing upwards should be no concern of yours.
Around the time I debuted my “girls”, an ex-friend who writes for a newspaper – and is known for being judgemental and outspoken about women’s bodies – wrote an entire column about plastic surgery and how it supposedly sets feminism back decades. I was really shocked when I read it. Surely one of the cornerstones of feminism is that women have the right to make choices about their bodies and present themselves as they wish. What I’m most passionate about is people not passing judgement on anyone’s body. It’s just not up there for discussion. It’s such an anti-feminist notion. The fact that I’ve had a boob job should not mean I can’t be taken seriously in the boardroom.
I’m so glad I waited until after I had my kids, because my body changed so much. If my daughter came to me and said she wanted surgery, I would do everything I could to convince her to wait. I think it can be a slippery slope for younger women who don’t have a lot of body confidence. For some people, one [surgery] can be enough, but for others, one thing’s never going to be enough.
Things like makeup and hair dye are not permanent; plastic surgery is hard to reverse. The longer you wait to make a choice like that, the better. *Amelia Fitzgerald’s name has been changed.
“The fact that I’ve had a boob job should not mean I can’t be taken seriously in the boardroom.”